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Covid-19 Australia: NAPLAN results show Victorian schoolkids are getting left behind by lockdowns

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Proof that Aussie kids are getting left behind in endless cycle of lockdowns leaving millions forced out of school – and one state premier is most to blame

  • Pandemic taken toll on progress in the classroom in Victoria, test scores showed
  • NAPLAN results found Victorian students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 progressed least
  • Nationally there was no major downward trend in numeracy and literacy scores
  • But test scores in Victoria failed to rise at the same rate as the rest of Australia 
  • Students in Melbourne spent five months remote learning during lockdowns










The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on progress in the classroom in the country’s most locked-down state Victoria, new test scores have showed.  

This year’s NAPLAN results found Victorian students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 progressed the least in Australia when comparing each cohort’s literacy and numeracy score with what they achieved two years ago.

Students in Melbourne have spent 150 days learning from home since March 2020 – while those in wider Victoria have been banned from the classroom for four months.

Pictured: Secondary school students returning to the classroom at Bentleigh Secondary College in Melbourne's south-east on July 28. Students in the city have spent 150 days learning from home since March 2020 amid the city's cycle of Covid-19 lockdowns

Pictured: Secondary school students returning to the classroom at Bentleigh Secondary College in Melbourne’s south-east on July 28. Students in the city have spent 150 days learning from home since March 2020 amid the city’s cycle of Covid-19 lockdowns

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has yet to announce when children can return to school in his state.

Victorian students overall ranked first across subjects in all year levels. 

But the state’s scores have failed to rise at the same rate as the rest of Australia when comparing Year 3 students in 2019 and Year 5 students in 2021.

The improvement in scores in Year 5 to 7 and Year 7 to 9 students also fell behind the national average, The Australian reported. 

Victorian officials have scrambled to minimise the disruption caused by Melbourne’s six Covid-19 lockdowns since the pandemic began.

The state’s education minister James Merlino in April announced a $250million support package to bring students back up to speed.

More than 1.2 million students nationally took part in the NAPLAN tests – which provides an annual snapshot of student’s current reading, writing, language and numeracy skills.

There were significant improvements in Year 3 and Year 5 reading, Year 5 numeracy, and Year 3 and 5 spelling, along with steady upward trends in Year 3 and 5 reading results as well as Year 5, 7 and 9 numeracy.

NSW recorded the best results nationally for Years 3 to 7 in spelling and writing, while the ACT had the highest Year 9 score for grammar and punctuation. 

A student learns from home in Melbourne during the pandemic. This year's NAPLAN results found Victorian students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 progressed the least when comparing each cohort's literacy and numeracy score

A student learns from home in Melbourne during the pandemic. This year’s NAPLAN results found Victorian students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 progressed the least when comparing each cohort’s literacy and numeracy score

A downward trend in writing skills for students in Year 5, 7 and 9 has also flattened, and all year levels demonstrated steady improvement in spelling.

Education Minister Alan Tudge said he was pleased with the overall numbers but worries it masks the pandemic’s effects on disadvantaged children.

‘We were expecting to have much more diminished results this year,’ he told Sky News on Wednesday.

‘What these results don’t show, though, is where the outliers might be.

‘I’m particularly worried about some disadvantaged cohorts who may have lost so much of their learning that are hidden by these average figures.’

The authority responsible for developing the national curriculum labelled the results a testament to the resilience of teachers, parents and students,

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews pictured on August 21. He has yet to announce when children can return to school in his state

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews pictured on August 21. He has yet to announce when children can return to school in his state

‘It’s reassuring to see that overall, our students’ literacy and numeracy standards have not significantly suffered, despite the major disruptions of COVID-19 and remote learning,’ ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said.

‘However, this does not mean there has been no impact on specific students or demographic groups.’

The Australian Education Union warned against drawing simplistic conclusions from the ‘deeply flawed’ assessment.

‘The narrow focus of the test reduces students to a number on a spreadsheet,’ union president Correna Haythorpe said.

‘And (it) does not take into account teachers’ informed judgement, the daily learning that occurs in the classroom and issues relating to student health and wellbeing which are deeply important during this pandemic.’

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